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Park’s 5 public defenders remain anonymous

Oct 27,2017
The Seoul Central District Court appointed five public defenders for former President Park Geun-hye to continue her criminal trial - but didn’t release their names.

“Because all of Park’s lawyers resigned, we had to name public defenders,” Judge Kim Se-yun said Wednesday. “We appointed five lawyers.”

Park’s team is the largest group of court-appointed lawyers to represent a single client in the country’s history. One public defender is named in ordinary cases, but the court said it decided to assign five because of the massive scope and complexity of the case. Park, impeached last December and removed from office in March, is standing trial on charges of receiving bribes from conglomerates in return for political favors. The case involves over 120,000 pages of investigation reports.

The court said Park’s new team is composed of public defenders with experience ranging from six to 31 years of practice. The court said their identities will be kept secret until the next hearing in the case. “We are worried about unwanted misunderstanding and speculation,” Judge Kim said.

Park initially had seven lawyers but they resigned en masse on Oct. 16 to protest the court’s decision to continue to keep the former president behind bars until next April. She opposed that decision and challenged the integrity of the court shortly before her lawyers resigned.

Defendants under physical detention or those accused of a charge punishable by more than three years in prison are legally required to have legal representation.

Park’s trial has been suspended since Oct. 19. It is expected to resume next month when the new lawyers are ready.

Meanwhile, the prosecution asked the court to punish Jeong Ho-seong, former presidential secretary of the Park Blue House, with two years and six months in prison. Jeong was indicted for leaking secret government documents to Choi on the orders of Park. Jeong’s verdict will be announced on Nov. 15, 2017.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]